Frequently Asked Questions About Trucking Accidents
Q: What can I do to protect myself after an accident with a big truck or tractor-trailer?
A: Truck and bus cases are very complicated and require the immediate attention of a truck accident lawyer who has a record of success in handling big truck cases. Trucking companies will typically have unlimited resources that include teams of lawyers and experts who are prepared to fight against any lawsuit you may file as a result of an accident—regardless of how injured you are. If you have been hit by a truck, the best way to protect yourself is to contact an experienced truck accident attorney who will defend your rights and ensure that you are fairly compensated.
Q: What should I do at the scene of a truck accident?
A: While you are at the scene of the accident, you should do the following:
- Remain calm and remain in your vehicle (unless it’s too dangerous to do so)
- Turn on your hazard lights
- Call 911 even if your accident seems minor
- Seek medical attention for any injured drivers or passengers
- Unless necessary, do not move the vehicles until the police arrive
- Never leave the scene of the accident
- Write down the names, addresses, and phone numbers of all parties involved, including any witnesses
- Make sure you write down the names and badge numbers of any police officers that are investigating the accident
- Photograph the vehicles and any injuries sustained by you or your passengers
- Do not admit fault
- Immediately notify your own insurance company of the accident
Do not discuss the accident with anyone except the police or your own insurance agent or representative; you are not required to give a statement to anyone but the police and your insurance company.
Q: What to do after you’re in a car accident with a tractor-trailer?
- Do not sign anything given to you by an insurance company without consulting us, first. Insurance companies do not represent your interests. Your best decision is to educate yourself about your legal rights and speak to an attorney. You may have to sue to obtain the money to which you are entitled.
- Don’t be fooled by insurance adjusters who pretend to represent your interest. They will often attempt to convince you to sign papers and take settlement offers that are well below the compensation to which you are entitled.
- Document your injuries early, get competent medical treatment, and take photographs in the hospital, or when you get home.
- Keep track of all expenses related to your injury, including prescription receipts, logged mileage for trips to doctors’ offices or physical therapy appointments, and home care expenses.
- Keep an ongoing, detailed list of all healthcare providers and facilities that you see to help you deal with your injuries.
- Follow all treatment instructions and keep all scheduled appointments with your doctors and therapists to document your active cooperation with the healing and rehabilitation process.
Large trucking companies have their own investigators and attorneys fighting for them, you need someone on your side. Please contact the Pennsylvania lawyers of Munley Law for a free consultation.
Q: What should I do if someone from the trucking company calls me before I’ve picked a truck accident lawyer?
A: Do not agree to make a recorded statement to the trucking company’s insurance carrier. Do not sign any forms sent to you by the trucking company and their insurance carrier. Immediately contact Munley Law.
Q: What should I do in the days following a truck accident?
A: Here are the steps you should take:
- Obtain a copy of the accident report prepared by the police
- Obtain a property damage valuation from your insurance company
- Write down all visits with doctors and other healthcare providers and keep a journal of any symptoms or pain you experience. Also, get copies of all test results, medications, treatments, and any other relevant medical information
- Keep a detailed list of any out-of-pocket expenses you incur
- Record days of missed work or other activities in which you were unable to participate
- Never accept a settlement offer from an insurance carrier unless you have consulted with a lawyer
Q: Who can be sued in a truck accident case?
A: In a truck or tractor trailer accident case, the truck driver, trucking company, or owner of the truck/trailer can typically be liable. In some cases, however, the facility responsible for loading the truck, or even the entity responsible for the contents of the trailer can be liable as well. Each case is unique, so the best way to determine the course of action you should take is by speaking with a lawyer. That is why we offer free consultations to our potential clients.
Q: How long do I have to file a lawsuit after a truck accident?
A: In most states, the statute of limitations is two years from the date of the accident. But, in any case, it is best to contact an attorney as soon as possible following an accident. The investigation of your case is crucial, and it becomes increasingly difficult to obtain vital information as time goes on. Important pieces of evidence regarding vehicle safety standards and driver logs can be lost or destroyed. The trucking company will have its own team of investigators and experts on the scene of the crash in order to build its defense. You will need someone on your side to do the same. We will take witness statements and photographs, and work with accident reconstruction experts as well as medical experts to build your case. It is best if we can get to work as soon as possible.
Q: How much will it cost to hire an attorney?
A: At Munley Law, we work on a contingent fee basis. This means that we do not collect a fee (a portion of the benefits obtained) unless we win your case. We will not get paid until you get paid, and you will owe us nothing up-front or out of your own pocket.
Q: Do I even need a tractor trailer accident lawyer?
If you have been in an accident with any type of truck, it is important to call an attorney immediately to see what your options are. Not all instances will require a court case, but it is important to speak to a knowledgeable lawyer who can advise you on what your next step should be.
Q: Does my lawyer have enough experience?
When you’re looking for an attorney to represent you in your tractor trailer accident case, you want someone who is well-versed in the field. Trucking accidents can be much different than a car or a regular slip and fall accident — instead of dealing with an individual, you may have to face down a company. When choosing a tractor trailer accident lawyer, you want to see if their track record holds a history of success in these type of accidents. At Munley Law, we have been battling truck companies for our clients for over 50 years to get them the compensation they deserve. The verdicts and settlements we have received for our clients have reached up to $8 million. The numbers don’t lie — Munley Law is ready to fight for what you deserve in the courtroom.
Q: Can I afford a lawyer?
It may be difficult figuring out how to afford a lawyer if you need one for your truck accident case. At Munley Law, we work on an contingent fee basis, which means we do not collect a fee unless we win your case. You will owe us nothing out of pocket, even if we lose your case!
You’ve found the right tractor trailer lawyer
The law firm you choose to represent you in your tractor trailer accident case has to have experience. They have to have a proven track record of success and have the numbers to prove their worth. The lawyers you pick should be ready to work with you and your needs to provide the best experience for you during this difficult time. Ideally, you should pick a firm that employs many lawyers and staff members that are all dedicated to providing you with the best legal service available. At Munley Law, this is the type of experience you will have. We are a family of lawyers who work diligently to get the compensation our clients deserve.
If you are ready to take action after your truck accident, contact the attorneys at Munley Law. We’re the right team for you.
Q: What Causes Large Truck Accidents?
Any vehicle with a gross vehicle weight of over 10,000 pounds is considered a large truck and is governed by specific federal safety regulations and laws. The government requires that truck drivers qualify for commercial licenses and are subject to limited drug and alcohol testing. Unfortunately, many truck safety advocates question the effectiveness of the licensing and testing programs. From 1992 to 2002, the number of large trucks involved in fatal crashes has increased by up to 10% due to driver fatigue, unsafe vehicle operation, large, unstable loads or defective equipment. Accidents involving semi-truck, 18-wheeler, and large trucks present many unique issues including:
Hours of Service.
Driver fatigue and drowsiness are conditions that result in reckless behavior such as failure to keep in the proper lane and running off the road. Tired truckers are of such concern that in April of 2003, the Federal Motor Carrier Safety Administration (FMCSA) instituted new hours of service regulations to curb truckers’ problems with fatigue. While these laws have helped reduce the number of accidents, the U.S. National Transportation Safety Board still blames driver fatigue as a probable factor in 20-40% of truck crashes.
Over a period of one year, a study of truck driver fatalities was conducted by The National Transportation Safety Board and The National Institute on Drug Abuse in eight states. Comprehensive drug screenings were performed on blood specimens taken from 168 fatally injured drivers. One or more drugs was detected in 67% of these fatally injured drivers and 33% of these drivers had detectable blood concentrations of psychoactive drugs or alcohol.
Big-rig operators are responsible for the safe operation of their vehicle. When semi-trucks travel at rates exceeding 55 mph, they are speeding and the likelihood of a jackknife or rollover significantly increases.
- “Underrides” refer to passenger vehicles that slide under another vehicle, with the majority of these incidences happening between large trucks and passenger cars.
- “no-zones” or blind spots exist in the front, back and sides of a big rig truck. Recognizing these “no-zones”, the trucking industry has advised that for safety’s sake the driver of a passenger car should not be in front, back or in two lanes beside a large truck. Otherwise, when vehicles are in these blind spots, the truck may make a wide right turn into the passenger car.
- “Squeeze plays” involve trucks making wide right turns. When a passenger vehicle is caught between a large truck and the curb – they are caught in a “squeeze” that can have serious consequences.
- “Off-track” occurs when a truck turns at high speed and swings into an adjacent lane unexpectedly. Unlike passenger vehicles, transport trucks require up to 40 percent more space to stop. Following too closely results in inadequate stopping distance between large trucks which then rear-end vehicles in front. It is not difficult to imagine the devastating results that occur when a car, van or SUV is hit from behind with over 10,000 lbs. of moving metal.
According to FMCSA, there were over 2 million roadside inspections of trucks. Of those inspections, 23.2% of the vehicles were found to have serious violations. Despite the best efforts, defective and unsafe trucks continue to be a leading cause of catastrophic accidents on the nation’s highways.
Longer Combination Vehicles.
Are tractor-trailer combinations with two or more trailers that weigh more than 80,000 pounds. These trucks are at increased risk of jack-knife (the rig jackknifes when the drive axel brakes lock up); roll-over, sway, and loss of control. Greater lengths, heights and weights make these trucks perform and handle differently than tractor semi trailers or twin trailers. LCVs are more dangerous due to their tendency to sway and leave the lane they are traveling in, as well as requiring increased passing distance.
Hazardous Materials (hazmat).
Revenue from hazardous materials shipments has increased to $10 billion with more than 800,000 shipments every day. Hazardous materials (hazmat) in trucks are usually flammable liquids, such as gasoline. Each year about 200 hazmat trucks are involved in fatal crashes and 5,000 in nonfatal crashes.
Protecting the Victims
We will never know how many motorists have been “lucky” enough to have escaped a catastrophic encounter with a big rig. How many passenger vehicles are confronted daily by aggressive, fatigued truck drivers pulling a 13 hour shift in order to make a professional wage and meet tight deadlines How many semi trucks on the highway are operating despite failed roadside inspections Which drivers have cheated on their Hours of Service logbooks Even with these frightening scenarios and statistics, powerful trucking industry lobbyists continue to call for the weakening of truck safety rules and regulations to reap a higher profit.
When truck collisions do occur, trucking companies involved in the accident often send representatives to the accident scene. These agents work to handle everything at the scene of the accident so that they can limit or mitigate their company’s liability. Many times trucking, hauling and leasing companies dispute whose insurance will provide for victim compensation. These companies’ representatives know that the ideal time to confront an accident victim is immediately following the event. In the aftermath of a truck accident, the traumatized victim will need to make important decisions that will impact their future. Grieving, anxious and injured people are pressured by trucking and insurance companies’ tactics. Too often the victims and their families struggle through the difficult after effects of truck collisions alone. By working with an experienced attorney, victims can have some control and participation in ensuring that their rights and interests are protected.
Improving the Odds
The following suggestions may help motorists to improve the odds when sharing the road with large commercial trucks:
-Keep visible. Stay out of the “no-zones” – the truck’s blind spots. When behind a truck, stay far enough back to see both of the truck’s side mirrors.
-Maintain a safe distance to ensure that there is enough space and time to brake.
-Use signals to turn or pass and avoid sudden moves such as swerving to pass.
-Keep lights on and windshield wipers working on rainy days.
There are no easy answers to providing a productive and safe environment for everyone who shares the road; however making the safety of motorists a priority over profit is an important step in the right direction. If shipping costs rise in order to ensure safer transportation of goods and services, it is a small price to pay to save lives.
If you or a loved one have been injured in a commercial trucking accident, you need the experienced truck accident lawyers of Munley Law to protect your rights. Large trucking companies have their own investigators and attorneys fighting for them, you need someone on your side. Contact us today for a free consultation.
Q: Can the trucking company can be held responsible if one of its drivers causes an accident as a result of the failure?
Trucking companies must follow trucking safety regulations. If one of its drivers causes an accident as a result of the failure on the part of the trucking company to follow federal law, the company can be held responsible. There may be multiple parties involved, however, when a trucking accident occurs.
The potential defendants in a truck accident injury case can include:
- The truck’s driver;
- The owner of the truck or tractor-trailer;
- The person or company that leased the truck or trailer from the owner;
- The manufacturer of the vehicle, tires, or other parts that may have contributed to the cause or severity of the accident, and;
- The shipper or loader of the truck’s cargo (in cases involving improper loading).
The trucking, hauling, and leasing companies will often deny responsibility and attempt to pass the blame to avoid paying compensation to the victim. Trucking companies used to avoid liability for accidents by creating distance between themselves and the driver, the vehicle, and the equipment. The trucking company would obtain permits to operate the truck, but would then lease the equipment, tractors, and trailers from the truck owner. The trucking company would then hire the drivers as independent contractors from the truck owner, instead of hiring them as employees. If an accident occurred, the trucking company would be able to claim that the driver was not an actual employee and, thus, they were not responsible for the accident.
However, current federal law has ended that practice. Any company that owns a truck permit is responsible for all accidents involving a truck with the name of the trucking company displayed on the vehicle – regardless of whether the driver is an employee or independent contractor. Trucking companies can also be held responsible for negligence, including:
- Failure to maintain the truck and parts
- Failure to provide proper training to drivers
- Failure to hire safe drivers
- Failure to conduct background checks
- Failure to properly monitor truck driver safety
- Failure to check log books and require accurate entries
- Failure to enforce limited driving hours
Contact Our Truck Accident Lawyers Today
If you are hurt in a trucking accident, you need help from a firm used to handling claims involving trucking accidents and trucking company insurers. Munley Law Personal Injury Attorneys has years of experience in dealing with truck accident claims. Our Pennsylvania truck accident lawyers know how to clearly present the facts of your case and prepare a case strategy designed to protect your interests – not those of the trucking company. When trucking companies put others at risk, they must be held accountable, and you shouldn’t have to pay the ultimate price for their negligence.
At Munley Law Personal Injury Attorneys, our goal is to provide exceptional legal services to our clients. Our Pennsylvania truck accident attorneys strive to achieve the highest standard of excellence for the protection of individual rights through team work and the use of our considerable resources and experience. For a free consultation regarding your legal concerns, contact our truck accident lawyers online today.